Airline: Royal Brunei Airlines
Flight number: B154
Aircraft: Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Route: Melbourne to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Seating: Business class
Flight time: 7 hours, 5 minutes
The business class cabin has just 18 seats in a 2-2-2 formation; I had a window seat, which felt more private. The cabin’s spacious feeling is enhanced by the larger than usual windows and lack of window shades. Instead, touch-button dimming cuts glare while creating a restful, almost underwater effect. In addition to the large overhead lockers, there are good storage options between seats and under an ottoman, which combines with the seat when fully reclined to create a 77-inch (195-centimetre), lie-flat bed.
The fluffy white duvets are wonderfully comforting to snuggle up in. Pillows, by contrast, are just adequate (ask for two). The Dreamliner promises to deliver higher than usual humidity levels for passengers’ enhanced physical wellbeing. I usually have sinus problems after even short flights, but experienced no negative effects from this cabin atmosphere, so it must really have been less drying than on other planes.
The dishes I tried – a mix of Western and Asian options – ranged from pleasant to outstanding. Meals can be ordered at any time and guests are free to choose from the menu as they wish. I ordered three entrees (fish chowder, smoked salmon, and mixed pepper salad with roast beef), as none of the mains appealed to me. Following the laws of their devoutly Muslim country, no alcohol is served on Royal Brunei Airlines flights. Guests may bring small amounts of alcohol on board (check quantities with the airline or your travel agent) and cabin staff will provide mixers, but cannot handle the alcohol themselves.
Movie and television options on the 15.4-inch touchscreen LCD monitors are less extensive than you may be used to with other airlines. Nevertheless, there were plenty of new release choices and more than enough material to occupy travellers on this medium-length flight.
Thirty kilograms checked luggage, depending on booking class, plus two carry-on bags with a combined weight of up to 12 kilograms.
The Royal Skies program is free to join and gives business class passengers either 125 per cent or 150 per cent of air miles, depending whether their ticket is discounted or full fare. This program is not part of an airline network, but has a number of worldwide hotel, dining and bank partners.
A pleasurable surprise was discovering that our plane was flown by two female pilots – how cool is that? RBA flights also begin with a “journey prayer”, recited in Arabic and presented on-screen in English, which made for a unique start to the trip, strangely soothing and quite beautiful.
Would you fly with them again?
Absolutely. The lack of alcohol didn’t bother me as I usually fly alcohol-free anyway.